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12th June 2018


A new book will plot new routes through the beer garden this summer. Published this week, The Pocket Guide to Beer promises to demystify blackboards scrawled with unpronounceable names and off-licence shelves towering with artful labels that give little clue to a bottle’s contents. Drinks writers Joe Dick and Nikki Welch have created an ingenious tube map to help navigate beer’s crowded marketplace.

Beers are arranged by flavour profile along intersecting tube lines in a manner reminiscent of London’s iconic underground map. The Aromatic Line, for example, starts in the world of lagers with Kölsch, travels through a busy central zone full of IPAs, before arriving in the outer reaches of wheat beers and lambics. Change at Golden Ale for bitters on the Central Line. Barley Wine is only opens at weekends and bank holidays.

Handy and stylish, the book is packed with non-nonsense tasting notes, facts about history and brewing methods, troubleshooting tips, and a useful glossary. The section on food pairings makes the audacious claim that beer brings as much, if not more, to the table as wine when served with the right dish. Beer’s umami bias gives a dish depth while its carbonation cleanses the palate between mouthfuls.

Joe Dick, a seasoned industry insider, says,

When working in bars I always prided myself on arming staff with knowledge bombs, succinct nuggets of knowledge they could drop into a conversation with a guest without overwhelming them or appearing too patronising and nerdy. It’s great to be able to share these with a wider audience in such an accessible format. My hope is that The Pocket Guide to Beer will be an essential tool for bartenders, salespeople and consumers, providing a foundation of knowledge to help them comfortably open new conversations. Most importantly, it’s about helping people drink more widely and discover new things.

Nikki Welch, who began her career in wine and created the Tube Map concept, says

Compared to a few years ago there is an amazing selection of beers available, not just in specialist shops and beer bars but in your local pub and supermarket too, with new ones popping up every week. When we created the map we wanted people to see that there was more out there than a choice between fizzy lager, hoppy IPA and (for most people) terrifyingly dark beer. Instead there’s a world of flavour, you just need to find your zone… Working with Joe to develop this map has completely opened my palate, so that I buy and order a much wider selection of beers, to suit my mood, what I’m eating or just what’s on offer. By exploring a wider range of beers not only are you treating your palate, but supporting a burgeoning local and seasonal craft scene.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Pocket Guide to Beer by Joe Dick and Nikki Welch is published by Birlinn on June 17th (£7.99, paperback)
  2. Joe Dick studied English and Journalism at Napier University before going on to run a number of bars in Edinburgh and take a diploma in Distilling. He is a seasoned industry insider with an encyclopaedic knowledge of beer.

Nikki Welch is a drinks industry entrepreneur who specialises in inspiring people to be more adventurous in their drinks through pop-ups, training, and digital tools. She is the creative force behind the WineTubeMap and the WhiskyTubeMap.

  1. Joe Dick and Nikki Welch are available for interview.
  2. Copies are available for review or extract. Hi-res images are available.
  3. Birlinn Limited is Scotland’s largest independent publisher, based in Edinburgh. Founded by Hugh Andrew in 1992, it publishes non-fiction, literary fiction, poetry, children’s and sports books across five imprints. The company was named Saltire Society Publisher of the Year in 2017, the year of its 25th anniversary.
  4. Contact: Kristian Kerr, Publicity Officer, Birlinn Ltd, /0131 668 4371